I got to thinking about this after reading another blog about how blogging affects photography (a blog about a blog about blogging… oh, it’s a watershed moment). One of the major points the author makes is that, in the ego-driven world of blogs, there is no criticism of the images posted alongside those blogs, primarily because it’s not about the technical achievement of the image but the content it’s trying to convey.
I countered in my head that this isn’t necessarily bad for photography as it free photobloggers from traditional boundaries and allows them to make “mistakes” that, in some cases, become happy accidents. for example, every photography class in the world will make a big deal out of critical sharpness in an image and cover all of the ways to accomplish it from camera to enlarger. But, in the right context, selective focus and, to some degree, soft focused images can have a great deal of impact when used properly, often due to the fact that they break the rules. Cross-processed images, so popular with “extreme” fashion shoots, break the rules completely – bad color, over exposure and improper handling of the developing chemicals.
But this doesn’t mean that every blurry, overexposed shot is art. So those wishing to improve their photography – or any form of art, for that matter – must be open and listen to any constructive criticism offered. But their listening must be as critical as the advice they’re hearing, otherwise their art could fall prey to the banal mass-produced art (*cough*ThomasKinkade*cough*) that sticks to the rules so rigidly as to completely bleed their work of any artistic interest.
And that, right there, is what separates the artist from the hack. I’m convinced that anyone can draw, but to produce truly outstanding work, you need to understand when to break from the mold. Anyone can push the shutter button on a camera, but it takes someone with a good knowledge of the rules combined with a good sense of when to challenge them to really stand out.
This really has nothing to do with blogs or blogging. And I’m of the opinion that, while the photos produced by the blog world at large are not always the greatest, anything the gets more people behind a camera is a good thing. This realization of the essence of creativity is not at all new to professionals and folks making their way in the art world, but it seems unusually profound to me. So I’m sharing.